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Top 5 moments from Hillingdon's second ever literary festival – featuring Shappi Khorsandi, Ken Livingstone and Matt Haig

Getwestlondon reporter Alex Ballinger was at the Hillingdon Lit Fest from start to finish - here are his favourite moments from the event

Our top picks from HLF 2016

This year marked the second time the Hillingdon Literary Festival (HLF) has been held and there were plenty of highlights to choose from thanks to a full weekend of free events.

HLF 2016, held at Brunel University in Uxbridge, saw big names take to the stage including Benjamin Zephaniah, Ken Livingstone and Shappi Khorsandi, but also had a showcase of aspiring local writers.

Here are getwestlondon' s top five moments from the festival, which ran from Friday October 7 to Sunday 9.

1. 'Red Ken' causes quite a stir on Twitter

The former Mayor of London and Labour politician Ken Livingstone has caused quite a bit of controversy lately with some interesting views on Hitler and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but it was another idea that caught the internet’s eye during HLF.

During a panel discussion on "shifts in political rhetoric", Livingstone suggested taking the news media out of private hands, and instead handing it over to workers' cooperatives.

Twitter users picked up on the comment, and pointed out parallels between Livingstone's idea, the Soviet newspaper Pravda, and even the policies of Adolf Hitler.

2. Shappi's debut novel is NOT suitable for children

Shappi Khorsandi reading from her debut novel

Comedian and now author Shappi Khorsandi charmed the packed out audience during her event where she was in conversation with literary journalist Suzi Feay.

Discussing her first novel, Nina is not OK, Khorsandi talked addiction, sexuality, and read a particularly adult section from the book, almost none of which is fit for publication.

But tackling heavy issues, Shappi kept her audience on the edge of their seats and was funny for the duration, a definite highlight of the festival.

Watch inspiring London author explain why she is excited about Hillingdon's second ever literary festival

3.Matt Haig might change your life

Matt Haig

Novelist and journalist Matt Haig gave a heart-wrenching talk about his book Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir about suffering with depression.

Haig talked about his personal battle with depression, ways to deal with it for other suffers, and the ways it can be portrayed to the public.

It was a very eye opening event as the audience question the author about his own experiences and their own battles with depression.

He obviously won over the audience as he had one of the biggest queues for autographs after his event.

Uxbridge Waterstone becomes creative hub for an evening as Hillingdon Literary Festival launches

4. Benjamin Zephaniah has lived a wild life

Benjamin Zephaniah

The writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah had by far one of the busiest events at HLF as he recited his own poetry and told the tale of his mesmerising life.

Zephaniah, who is also a lecturer at Brunel University, recalled getting kicked out of school, getting into a life of crime, going to prison, and how he broke through to become one of the most famous poets in Britain.

A really inspiring event, Zephaniah pointed out the racism that he faced growing up, and his poetry performances were spectacular.

5. Hillingdon's got talent

The final event of the weekend was also a one of my favourites as it showcased some of the phenomenal writing talent Hillingdon has.

This year marked HLF's first ever writing competition, which encouraged writers with local links to write around the them of Writing Local, Thinking Global.

A handful of competition shortlisters performed their work in front of audiences, but the top spot and the £250 prize went to Vivien Brown for her poem dedicated to the nurses of the NHS.

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